Martha and I. We’d have been friends.

on May 27, 2008 in Ze Bloggy Goodness with 8 comments by

I was listening to sermon in my car this weekend (I spent a lot of time in the car- 1/2 way to Athens, 1/2 way home, 2 hours up to Lake Burton, then 2 hours over to Athens, then 2 hours home again.). And the preacher talked about this scripture passage-

Luke 10: 38-42
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I feel sorry for Martha. Maybe because I kinda get her. I feel like her a lot. Work, work, work, because it’s the right thing to do. Someone else is lazy and THEY are commended?

[Now, before I proceed any further, please understand that I am NOT saying Jesus was wrong. I’m just saying I can sympathize with Martha’s thoughts. She was wrong, Jesus was right. As is to be expected.]

Because the truth is Martha just wanted desperately to do the right thing. She thought that was where she found love. In the right. Of course she would have rather been sitting there on the floor talking to Jesus, but she felt this need inside of her to be someone else. To do the things that “had” to get done.

There is a book called “Being a Mary in a Martha World” or something like that. But let me tell you the truth- Martha didn’t want a world. She disliked her role- she wouldn’t have complained about Mary not helping if she was serving with a cheerful heart. Heck, even Martha wanted to be a Mary in a Martha world.

If Martha is anything like me, and sadly, she is, then I can tell you she moaned because she was jealous. Not of Mary and Jesus’s relationship necessarily. But she was jealous that other people didn’t feel the need to do the “right” thing all the time. Martha was a people pleaser, an earner, and it made her longingly jealous to see Mary getting what Martha was working for…. for free.

It ain’t easy being Martha. She’s misunderstood. She’s looked at as a total you-know-what, when in reality, her issue was that her heart didn’t feel unconditionally loved. Mary got it- Mary knew that Jesus totally adored her. Martha worked towards that, never quite finding it, and Mary got it for free. Martha felt she had to earn all of it, work for all of it. She missed the giving heart of God.

I struggle with this story. I think that is fair to say. I don’t disagree with the Bible, but I have to “work out” my salvation with this story. I wrestle with this one. I am a strong believer in FAIR. But that is not Biblical, so I have to daily lay it down. (The other story I struggle with is the prodigal son. Namely, the older brother and the way his life went.)

This is not some blog cry for help- I promise. I’m really fine. This is just me expressing to you that it is okay to not hug every Bible story. We are supposed to WORK OUT our salvation. We all have sinful nature and it is to be expected that the sinful nature in you (and your issues and hurts) will prick against certain ideas or parables more than others. Some things are just going to disagree with the thoughts that have always run through your head. The thoughts are usually wrong, but common none the less.

Trust me. I want to be a Mary- one who has the confidence and peace to kick back and let the world run itself, knowing all will be well as long as Jesus is the focus. A girl who is good at receiving gifts and doesn’t feel like they are earned.

But I’m Martha. Look over here, Jesus, I’m working so hard. Notice me doing the “right” thing. And make her do the “right” thing too. Because I want to be sitting, resting, soaking in Your Presence. But there is so much to be done. It’s not fair. I think I would feel better if everyone felt this ridiculous need to do the “right” thing instead of just me. Misery loves company. And where is all the goods I should be getting for working this hard? Don’t I deserve it? (Yikes, that paragraph makes me shudder a bit- it’s shocking how easy it is for the enemy to twist God’s character in our minds, isn’t it?)

You know what I think Martha wanted Jesus to say?

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her. Why don’t you come sit, too?

I’m grateful that today I can hear Jesus asking me to come sit. All the work? It will get taken care of. What matters most is me. And Him.


  1. Dan
    posted on May 27, 2008 at 4:31 AM  |  reply

    Nice post; very true.

    For my part, I’ve never really felt like “hugging” the story of Achan in Joshua. I mean, Achan being stoned for stealing some of the goods is understandable. But stoning every single member of his family as well? What if they honestly didn’t know that he’d kept the stuff? Yet they’re held accountable for his sin, to the point of death? Unfair. Absolutely unfair. Still, as you say, God is right in all his judgments, and we’re wrong in all of ours.

    It’s just hard to accept, that’s all…

  2. Boggsy
    posted on May 27, 2008 at 4:40 AM  |  reply

    That’s a good word Annie and believe me when I say, “Oh so timely.” Thanks for being a vessel…

  3. Annie
    posted on May 27, 2008 at 5:37 AM  |  reply

    Beautiful post, Annie. I’m going to have to read it a couple more times and soak in that. Thanks.

  4. steve and randel hambrick
    posted on May 27, 2008 at 10:47 AM  |  reply

    you, mary, and i– bff’s for sure. we would at least share the load! 🙂

    i think the personality we are born with affects this greatly. if you are a type-A, get her done, organized/efficient person then the mary actions aren’t natural or easy. some people are wired like mary, and it’s much easier for them to act like mary. lots of GRACE to us other folks….

  5. Jen
    posted on May 27, 2008 at 12:23 PM  |  reply

    Absolutely. I’ve been up since 3am sitting at His feet wrestling with this very situation in my life. When we sit at His feet everything else in our lives gets smaller, and our dependency on Him gets bigger. I can then let go of my list of things to do and yet I always seem to get MORE done after times spent at His feet. Isn’t God just smart sometimes?

  6. ManUtd17
    posted on May 27, 2008 at 1:01 PM  |  reply

    Fritch is very in tune with Mary. I am not. One of the things I have taken from our friendship is his helping me embrace Mary’s perspective more.

  7. melissa
    posted on May 27, 2008 at 1:46 PM  |  reply

    You know I am with you there, too.
    But your comment on the prodigal son story reminded me of something our pastor shared with Jake a couple years ago:
    I, too, tend to identify with the older brother in that story. But the fact that we even SAY that is what MAKES us the younger, prodigal brother. The idea that we’ve even done something to earn God’s love makes us that much more sinful, humble and in need of forgiveness.
    This is probably not news to you, but it was to me.
    Happy Tuesday 🙂

  8. Anonymous
    posted on May 27, 2008 at 6:41 PM  |  reply

    The Bible can be viewed from many different angles on many different levels. One of the ways to look at the Bible is as the handbook for our soul’s unfoldment. When we view the bible this way we see all the characters and events stand for something within each one of us.
    Jesus was colorful. At his birth there were colorful celebrations. He traveled a lot for a man from a poor family. He loved to go to social gatherings. His first recorded miracle was turning water into wine. He affirmed Mary at a party at the house of Mary and Martha. Mary was sitting at His feet and Martha was busy working in the kitchen.Martha was a little miffed. Jesus told Martha that it is fine to have a good time. His message was the Kingdom of God is right now. And the Kingdom is a colorful one.

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